Car of Russia's ambassador to Prague, Aleksandr Zmeyevsky is parked in front of the Foreign Ministry in Prague, Czech Republic, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. The ambassador was summoned by newly appointed Foreign Minister Kulhanek to be handed the Czech protest against the Russian expulsion move, which the Czechs consider disproportionate, saying it has paralyzed the Czech Embassy in Moscow following the fierce diplomatic crisis over allegations that Russian agents were involved in a massive Czech ammunition depot explosion. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Putin: ‘Unfriendly’ embassies may face Russian hiring bans

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree allowing the country to limit the number of Russians employed at embassies of countries determined to be unfriendly, or to ban their employment entirely.

The measure, announced by the Kremlin on Friday, comes amid a flurry of expulsions of Russian diplomats from the United States and European countries and Moscow’s retaliatory expulsions.

The decree directs the government to draw up a list of countries determined to be unfriendly. It would affect not only those countries’ embassies, but consular offices and offices of state institutions.

The United States last week expelled 10 Russian diplomats in connection with interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and for involvement in the SolarWind hack of federal agencies.

The Czech Republic last week expelled 18 Russian envoys they labeled as spies, prompting Russia to send 20 Czech diplomats home. That devastated Czech Embassy operations in Moscow, prompting Czech authorities on Thursday to order 63 more Russian diplomats to leave so that both countries had the same number of staff in their respective embassies.

Poland last week said it was expelling three Russians and Moscow expelled five in retaliation. The Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia ordered a total of four Russian envoys to leave.

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